The Income Tax (IT) department in Hyderabad is sitting on a huge pile of cash that it should have returned long ago to those whom the money legitimately belongs: the tax payers. But hiding behind technicalities the department has not bothered to return the money which runs into a whopping Rs 1000 crore.
That it has in its ‘suspense account’ a sum of Rs 1000 crore was admitted publicly by chief commissioner of income tax department A K Basu. The tax man, however, claimed that this money – which is the excess tax collected – has not been refunded as the details of tax payers (such as PAN card number, address etc), recorded with the department were found to be incorrect. “In most cases, the Permanent Account Number (PAN) card number is wrong or missing altogether. In certain cases the form is incompletely filled,” said Basu, speaking at a seminar on tax deduction organised by Assocham on Wednesday.
Though top officials of the IT department passed the buck to tax payers and blamed their ignorance for the creation of a huge wealth in the suspense account of the IT department, analysts wondered if the department was trying to hide its inefficiency in dispatching the refunds on time. Recently a refund scam – involving siphoning of tax refund money – had surfaced in the department and the hand of insiders was suspected in the matter. Analysts also said that the IT department could well be deliberately delaying the release of money from the suspense account as they could be earning a hefty sum as interest from the money now deposited in the bank. “If they have put in long-term fixed deposits at an interest rate of 10 per cent, the department can be making Rs 100 crore annually,” said a businessman who is waiting for his refund. “This talk of tax payers writing wrong PAN numbers is all balderdash,” he added.
However, the department’s Hyderabad office is not the only offender in this matter. According to senior officials, nationally the income tax department is sitting on a suspense account that runs into Rs 16,200 crore.